“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” I Peter 5:1-4 ESV
Who are the elders among us, the church? Well, they are elected (or chosen) men who serve as teachers, pastors, counselors, and rulers in the church. They are held to a high moral standard, too. A list of qualifications of church elders can be found in scripture (Tit. 1:5-9; 1 Tim. 3:1-7). So, they must live lives which are above reproach in all areas of their lives and ministry.
In theory, this is how it is supposed to be, but in reality or in practice, at least here in America in the 21st Century, I get the strong impression that those who actually meet these qualifications are few and far between. They are rare, not the norm. And, that is sad indeed.
I believe the reason for why this is so is because Satan and his hordes have been able to stealthily slip into the gatherings of the church, largely unnoticed, and they have been able to introduce teachings which are contrary to God’s Word, which have largely been accepted. Wolves in sheep’s clothing appear to abound in today’s modern flesh-driven churches, which are void of the Spirit of God, and which follow man-made gospels.
Many of today’s “shepherds” within the church, thus, are these wolves in sheep’s clothing, and many are there to steal from, to kill and to destroy the church with their false teachings. Many are also men who are living to the flesh and not to the Spirit of God at all, so they don’t even know the God they claim to serve. And, so they majorly buy into the cheap grace gospel for it appeals to human flesh and to selfish desires.
And, of those who truly do know God, many of them are caught up in sinful practices, for they have been lured by Satan to believe that they can make sin their practice and still have heaven secured, and that God’s grace covers it all, anyway, so they don’t have to feel guilty about their sin. And, thus today’s church in America is on a massive spiritual decline with so many people within the gatherings of the church rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ in favor of a feel-good gospel message which tickles itching ears.
Thus, not many elders (pastors, teachers, rulers) within today’s modern churches are living lives which are above reproach, and so they can’t lead the people by example, because they are poor examples of what a follower of Christ should be like. And, I am not preaching sinless perfection here, either. It is just that so many, many leaders within the church are abandoning the faith as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles in order to go after what appeases their flesh.
You would probably be surprised to know how many pastors are not only involved in porn addiction, but who also visit prostitutes, who are engaged in extramarital affairs, and who do all sorts of evil against God, against their spouses, their families, and against the church, too, and then lie about it, and pretend they are living righteously while they know they are not.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:8-11 ESV
So, for those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ, we need to be very discerning of error and of false teachings within the church, because it can be very difficult to spot, at times, because of all the deception that has been going on for so many years within the gatherings of the church. Thus, so many people believe the lies, which are disguised as truth, because they sound like truth, because they have elements of truth in them.
For, these false shepherds of the people do, to some extent, teach the scriptures, but often the scriptures are pulled out of context to teach a particular philosophy, and so the teachings appear as though what is being taught is, in fact, truth. Another ploy is to just suggest a scripture in a text and just let it stand out there, but then to teach something else. The psychological effect is to convince the person reading or listening that what is being taught about, thus, is from scripture, when it may not be at all.
What we have to be aware of here, and what we have to know is that Satan is out to destroy us, to destroy Jesus Christ, and to destroy the gospel of our salvation so that many will not turn from their sins to follow Jesus Christ with their lives, but so they will continue living in sin doing what their flesh desires. Thus, they have turned the gospel into a social gospel which does good deeds to people but which does not confront people in their sin or call them to repentance or to obedience to Christ, to keep from offending them.
That is why you may hear in today’s modern churches the phrase “stay in your own lane.” It means to not do or say anything that would make anyone feel uncomfortable or offended. Don’t confront them with the gospel. Just be “nice” to them, and that will be your Christian witness, so they say.
So, if we are going to resist Satan and his clever tactics he uses to deceive naïve minds, we have to daily be putting off the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit, and we have to be putting on the armor of God with which to defeat Satan’s evil attacks and trickery against us (Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 6:10-20).
This means that we have to dedicate ourselves to studying the Word of God, while it is still available to us, book by book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse, in context, praying for understanding from the Lord, and then doing what it teaches us. And, then we will be able to discern error, and we will be able to see the tricks of the devil, and see the schemes that he uses against us to try to deceive us into believing his messages.
We have to know that a lot of what is being passed off as truth is lies cleverly disguised as truth. Such is the cheap grace gospel which has elements of truth, but which is short circuited and twisted, and which ignores the bulk of teachings on the subjects of salvation and eternal life with God. And, this is why it is a must that we be students of the scriptures (in their context), so that we spot error and so that we are not easily deceived.
For, Satan has cheapened God’s gospel of salvation so that the sinner who desires faith in Jesus Christ is often convinced that a mere acknowledgement of Jesus, or a mere confession of faith in Him is enough to secure them salvation from sin and eternal life with God. But, they teach that turning away from their sin and following Jesus in obedience to his commands is not required, and it is even discouraged, and sometimes even accused of being works-based salvation.
So, we have to know that the scriptures teach that faith in Jesus Christ is death to sin and living to righteousness. It is walking (in practice) according to the Spirit of God and his righteousness and not according to the flesh. For, this is why Jesus gave his life up for us, to deliver us out of our slavery to sin and to free us to become slaves of his righteousness. And, we have to know that if we walk according to the flesh, we will not inherit eternal life, but we will die in our sins, without God, and without hope.
[Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Eph. 4:17-24; Eph. 5:3-6; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Lu. 9:23-25]
An Original Work / December 17, 2013
Based off Revelation 2-3
To the angels of all the churches write:
These are the words of your Lord and your God.
I know all your deeds, and your witness, too,
And who holds to My words and tells what’s true.
I know all your hard work and your perseverance,
Yet I hold against you: you’ve forsaken Me.
Listen to what I say to you.
You have people there who deny My name,
And who put the cross of Christ up to shame.
They entice the people to Me, profane,
And their worship of Me is all in vain.
They are so adult’rous as they chase their idols,
And you put up with them easily enough.
Listen to what I say to you.
You give off an image of godliness,
But what you present is so fraudulent,
Or else you lack passion for Jesus Christ,
So you look to others to tell what’s right.
I say turn from your sin, or you will face judgment.
He who overcomes will have eternal life.
Listen to what I say to you.
I know your afflictions and poverty;
How you suffer for your Lord patiently.
Do not fear the devil and company.
You be faithful to your Lord endlessly.
I know all your weakness and your dedication.
You have kept My Word and not denied your Lord.
I will write on you My new name.